Aleksi, Lola (Gjoka)
- Nicholas Tochka
(b Sevastopol, Crimean Peninsula, May 22, 1910; d Tirana, Albania, Oct 6, 1985). Albanian pianist, arranger, pedagogue, and composer. Born in an Albanian-speaking enclave in Sevastopol on the Crimean Peninsula, she received early training in ballet and piano while growing up in a middle-class merchant family. After relocating to Korça, Albania in 1932, Gjoka became the primary accompanist for the local salon culture, which included the art-song singers Kristaq Antoniu, Mihal Ciko, Tefta Tashko-Koço, and Maria Kraja. She received a degree in piano performance from the Athens Conservatory in 1936. Following World War II, she taught at Tirana’s ‘Jordan Misja’ Arts Lyceum from its founding in 1946, and at the State Conservatory from 1962. In addition to training a generation of Albanian pianists, Gjoka was a tireless promoter of folk songs. During the socialist period, she was among the first women to collect folk songs, which she often arranged as elegant art songs for voice and piano. She also held an appointment at the Theater of Opera and Ballet in Tirana between ...